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Archive for November 8th, 2011

The B&O Island Park

Not much is known about the B&O Island Park which was opened in 1879 by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as an entertainment destination for its employees. But here are some interesting facts:

  1. The park was established on Byrne Island which is located in the Potomac River and is considered part of Maryland. The B&O railroad bought the island in 1878.[1] It was expanded in 1890 and was then named “Island Park.”
  2. The park operated from about 1879 to 1909.
  3. It was also used for political conventions and meetings.
  4. The only known remaining artifact from the park is the bandstand, also known as the Town Gazebo, and is located in Historic Harper’s Ferry.

The Jefferson County Museum has at least three post cards showing the footbridge from Harper’s Ferry to the Island Park. The post card titles are:

  • View from Island Park Bridge, Harpers Ferry, W. Va.
  • Bridge and Potomac River, Harpers Ferry, W. Va.
  • Island Park and Bridge, Harpers Ferry, W. Va

Unfortunately, photographs or other images of the reportedly numerous amusements at the Park, are not readily available. According to The Mountain Echo, Vol. I. No. 2, published by the Woman’s Club of the District of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, dated August, 1919, Island Park in the Potomac was

“A beautiful natural park, less than half a mile from Harper’s Ferry, going west, and owned by the B. & O. R. R. Co. In former times the Park was a great resort for excursionists from tri-state points. An ideal spot for camping and fishing, and much favored for local outing parties.”

And

“Island Park Road, following the Potomac River from the main street in Harper’s Ferry, past the Potomac Pulp Mill, is beautiful at all seasons of the year. In spring and autumn the way is gorgeous with wild flowers of many varieties; in summer luxuriant foliage and cool shade make the river route attractive; while the picturesque grandeur of the rocky heights, ornamented by gigantic icicles, on the one side, and the swift-flowing water on the other side, render the way particularly alluring for a winter walk or drive.”

In addition to this edition of The Mountain Echo, several others can be found at the Jefferson County Museum.

The Superintendent’s Building at Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park has a prominently displayed broadside advertising a political address by several candidates it says:

 Mass Meeting
And
Pic-Nic
At
ISLAND PARK
Harper’s Ferry
Wednesday, October 19, 1892
Addresses by
Colonel Wm. A. McCorkle
Democratic Candidate for Governor of West Virginia
Hon. Wm. L. Wilson
The Silver Tongued Speaker of the South
Col. L. Victor Baughman
Col. Buchanan Schley
Ex. Sec. Thos. F. Bayard
Senator Jno. W. Daniel
Maj. Holmes Conrad
Hon. Isador Rayner

FOR THIS OCCASION THE
B. & O. R.R.
Will sell
EXCURSION TICKETS
From Frederick, Hagerstown,
Berkley Springs, Winchester and
Immediate Ticket Stations at
ONE FARE FOR THE ROUND TRIP
For all Trains. Good on
Day of Sale Only

MUSIC BY BRASS BANDS

For Time of trains see Time Tables to be had at all Baltimore & Ohio Agents

McCorkle won the election and served as West Virginia’s ninth governor until 1897.  In 1910, he was elected to the West Virginia State Senate. He was born on May 7, 1857 in Lexington, Virginia and died on September 24, 1930 in Charleston, West Virginia[2].

William L. Wilson was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. He was also the United States Postmaster General under President Grover Cleveland from April 4, 1895 to March 5, 1897.  He was born in Charles Town, West Virginia on May 3, 1843 and died October 17, 1900 in Lexington, Virginia.[3]  He is interred at Edge Hill Cemetery in Charles Town.  A portion of U.S. Route 340 in West Virginia, between Harper’s Ferry and Charles Town, is named after him.

November, 8, 2011
(c) 2011 Steam at Harper’s Ferry

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